(NEW YORK POST) – A fifth-grade teacher in Missouri is out of the classroom after asking students to set a “price for a slave” as part of an assignment, district officials said.
The unidentified social studies teacher at Blades Elementary School in St. Louis was giving a lesson on market practices during colonial America in which students were tasked with setting prices for other commodities like grains, cows and food, KTVI reported.
“You own a plantation of farm and there need more workers,” the assignment reads. “You begin to get involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm…Set your price for a slave. These could be worth a lot.”
In a letter to parents Monday, the school’s principal said the teacher has “expressed significant remorse” for the misguided in-class exercise.
“The assignment was culturally insensitive,” principal Jeremy Booker wrote. “I appreciate the parents who notified me of this assignment.”
The teacher who doled out the assignment has been placed on administrative leave, a district spokeswoman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, while Booker said all staffers at the school will undergo cultural bias training in the near future.
But the president of the NAACP’s St. Louis County branch, John Bowman, doesn’t think that punishment is enough and wants a public apology, KTVI reported.
“There also needs to be some serious and immediate implicit bias, cultural bias [and] cultural difference training,” Bowman told the station, adding that he would like to meet with district officials to discuss the matter.
Teachers should be able to recognize that topics such as slavery necessitate additional sensitivity, Bowman said.
A snippet of the assignment was posted on Sunday to Facebook, where it was quickly blasted as “stupid,” insensitive and inappropriate for the classroom.
“The teacher knew what they were doing and was comfortable,” one critic wrote. “[It’s] 2019, not 1819. They need a different profession, stop destroying young minds.”
The teacher — who created the assignment — has been employed by the district for four years, a spokeswoman told The Post.